Glenside Hospital (Formerly…Parkside Lunatic Asylum, Parkside Mental Hospital)

Photographing abandoned buildings, full of rich textures and history, has always held an attraction for me. With a rare one off opportunity of being able to walk through South Australia’s Glenside Hospital, a heritage listed building that ceased operation in 1973, we had to take it up. For the first time open to the public, we could look through the Z Ward for the criminally insane. It was interesting to learn that it was originally named the L Ward, but this was changed as it sounded too close to ‘hell’ over the telephone. At a party the night before, I made the mistake of mentioning that my husband was taking me to an asylum in the morning – a few raised eyebrows later I explained about the open morning at the old Glenside Hospital. We had no idea what to expect, but upon arrival we realised this event was pretty popular, with a huge line (and I mean really huge) average waiting time of 1.5 hours, we weren’t even sure if we would be able to get the chance to have a wander through. On the plus side, line conversations are always interesting!

As fate would have it we just snuck through before closing, but that gave us barely a fifteen minute speed through. To be honest, on the outside it was an incredibly beautiful building – but on the inside quite eerie. The thing that resonated with me the most was the engraved finger marks along the outside of the building, created by patients who trailed their fingers along the wall as they they circled the building. The Ha-Ha wall (or ‘bigger on the inside’) was pretty interesting to see up close. I initially had no idea what it was, apart from thinking about Nelson from ‘The Simpsons’ every time it was mentioned. A Ha-Ha wall looks a normal scale at the exterior of the building, but once inside the property the landscape dips down so that the wall becomes so high it creates an impenetrable (and inescapable) fortress. To read more about the building and its history you can go here and here. Given the amount of cameras I saw, I’m sure there will be some really interesting images appearing online – these were a few I took in my quick race around!

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